To me, one of the more interesting projects I’ve found on FindCollabs is ResearchCollabs, a collaboration tool specifically for academic research. I wondered why such a tool would be useful, given the existence of FindCollabs. The answer is manifold. One part is that people engage better with a tool that is correctly scoped. If it is too narrow, you never get a user base; too wide and your users have trouble finding their flock. Trying to get academic research going on FindCollabs would threaten to either scare off projects that were not academic research, or leave researchers wading through unrelated projects and missing each other. There’s a reason that research labs are not generally in the Quad or Commons Dining Hall.
But the larger part is that they wanted ResearchCollabs to be a platform for collaborating on research, and FindCollabs is intended to be a platform for finding collaborators.
FindCollabs does not look to replace Slack or Trello or Github or whatever gets you where you’re going. Why reinvent the wheels? FindCollabs focuses on tools for finding projects and collaborators. Individuals can search for projects that look interesting, and project owners can invite individuals to join their project. User profiles can also serve a role in organic project discovery, as every project a user is part of is listed on their profile. More importantly, a user’s profile also shows reviews of their past collaborations. This is the beginning of a reputation system that will afford working with proven, effective contributors.
Yes, there is a chat room for discussing the project, but it is not intended to be the team communication tool; it’s more like the reception desk. “Hi, this is what we do, are you interested?” If so, you join the team and then work together however that team works together. In the chatroom, you can see the attachments and links that are associated with the project; for a small or ephemeral project, that might well be enough. “Let’s put this song together” might not require more than FindCollabs offers. But if 5 people are going to form a band, putting together an album, going on tour, and selling merchandise, they probably want to find each other, and then wander off into their own team space with a toolset more targeted toward their task.
With that in mind, if there are features you still find you want, the good news is that FindCollabs is still young and growing. You can collaborate on the future of the website through the FindCollabs Meta Project page.
Unfortunately, the Meta is not eligible for cash prizes, no matter how much you contribute. However, any project you start is eligible. The FindCollabs hackathon runs until midnight Pacific time on April 14th. It’s not limited to software; any creative, collaborative project is welcome to enter. Details are available at https://findcollabs.com/hackathon.